The furor over the recent practice of some public and private companies requesting social media passwords of job applicants reached Capitol Hill this past week, as lawmakers questioned whether this violates Federal law.
According to a New York Times article, Facebook has already said it violates their own policies related to the sharing of passwords.
What’s hilarious is that any employer thinks that viewing someone’s Facebook page will somehow give them information that is differentially relevant in the hiring process. Their assumption, of course, is that they’ll find something there to DISQUALIFY the applicant, not material that would support them being hired.
If a prospective employer BEGINS a relationship from a position of mistrust by asking for a Facebook password in search of dirty laundry, the relationship is over before it started.
Aside from the instant breach of trust and the legal minefield of making hiring decisions based on information in someone’s Facebook profile, there’s the implied question I asked above about whether or not the contents of someone’s Facebook page is “differentially relevant” in the hiring process.
“Differentially relevant” means that the information you get from a Facebook page would differentiate a good hire from a bad hire.
Think about this: People behave in a manner consistent with their own personalities across a variety of situations (for example, people who spend a lot on non-necessities for themselves are often generous to friends and family, also).
If an employer has an effective hiring process set up, then they’ll learn everything they need to know about the applicant using valid and reliable measures.
Without snooping around someone’s Facebook page.
Even something as mundane as a person’s resume tells you a huge amount about how they organize information, how they prioritize, how they communicate, and whether or not they have a tendency to fib a little. Or a lot.
Everything they do while in your office is relevant. What the applicant says to your receptionist in the waiting room is far more telling about how they behave in a professional environment then whether they went o Uncle Phil’s barbecue last Sunday and posted the pics on their Facebook page.
And if you use valid and reliable pre-hire screening tools, you learn where the applicant stacks up against thousands of other people who completed the exact same questionnaire.
A well-planned interview is the best sample of a person’s behavior. I’ve seen the top candidate for an executive position blow the interview by – as he made what he thought was a great point — tapping the knee of a senior executive conducting the interview.
Another applicant repeatedly pointed at the interviewer – much like you’d point at a child to make him stop misbehaving – and lost the chance at a great job.
All of this is to say that there is a huge amount of relevant information available to employers who know how to conduct an intelligent and thoughtful assessment process.
If they’re so desperate for disqualifying information that they’re badgering applicants for their Facbeook passwords, then I imagine the hiring process is only one of their business problems.
Think about that.